Category Archives: State of Florida

Never, Never, Never Give Up!

It is really great to be learning more about Florida’s west coast. My recent girls’ trip with high school friends Nic Mader and Cristina Maldonado was the “best-west” yet! What is so interesting is that no matter where I go, it seems my home town of Martin County follows, or is already there. When I opened the book I took along the trip for reference, Everglades, The Ecosystem and Its Restoration, guess who had written the forward? Martin County’s Nathaniel Reed. His final words after quoting Winston Churchill were “I count on you to never giver up!”

God, it’s hard sometimes isn’t it? In fact, part of the west coast trip was to get our minds off all happening on the east coast. And then there is SB 2508. But Mr Reed is right, we must never give up.

Another important fact is that after Mr Reed’s death, the Big Cypress Visitor’s Center was named in his honor. How awesome is that? The U.S.Hobe Sound Wildlife Refuge on the east coast and Big Cypress on the west. What a man!Mr Reed…

He was almost mythical…attending Rivers Coalition meetings in his 80s standing there speaking to us about the importance of the EAA Reservoir with his eyes partially closed, as in a trance. His arms folded, scarred, and weathered from his hundreds of fishing trips around the globe. At these meetings, he revealed insights from his days working in Tallahassee and Washington D.C. and many of the hurdles encountered.

In 2017, it meant the world  to me, when Mr Reed wrote a letter to the editor of the Stuart News in support of a bill I sponsored, “A Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment.” I was getting hammered by Gunster lawyers during my appointment to the Constitution Revision Commission. Oh such a threat! Even the River Kidz were being humiliated. Mr Reed wrote in his letter:

“As one of the authors of the 1973 Clean Water Act. I attempted late in process to include agricultural pollution in the bill, but the major congressional supporters of the pending bill felt that by adding the controls on agricultural pollution the bill would fail.

Now, 54 years later, fertilizer and dairy waste are the main contributors to the pollution of the waters of our nation. Algal blooms are all too common even on the Great Lakes.

The “usual suspects” may defeat Thurlow -Lippisch’s brave effort, but you are right: The issues won’t go away! “

I never forgot these kind words, it made it all worth while when I felt like crying or walking into a corner. The bill failed. Time moves on but I never forgot. For me to see both Reed’s smiling face at the Big Cypress Visitors’ Center during our girls’ trip, and then ironically when I opened the Davis/Ogden book; it makes me feel like Mr Reed is still alive. He is speaking to us. Yes. Even when we are getting crushed, we cannot give up.

As I stood at Big Cypress something occurred to me that I had not realized before. The west coast is full of lands that were created because Mr Reed and others of his era did not give up even after tremendous disappointment.

  1. Audubon Corkscrew Swamp and Sanctuary (north west off map) est. 1953
  2. Picayune Strand State Forest est. 1995
  3. Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge est. 1989
  4. Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve est. 1974
  5. Big Cypress National Preserve est. 1974
  6. Everglades National Park est. 1947

In 1947, after going through the political blender, Everglades National Park ended up being half the size originally negotiated. Ernest F. Coe, who inspired many and envisioned a national park dedicated to the preservation of the Everglades, almost boycotted the park’s ribbon cutting he was so angry at the reduction in size. In the end, Mr Coe attended, but only after those the likes of Ms Marjory Stoneman Douglas insisted.

And years later as the list above shows, Corkscrew, Picayune, the Panther Refuge, Fakahatchee, and Big Cypress were established to a patchwork of pieces near or contiguous with Everglades National Park. The “titles”are different, but to the wildlife and our waters its all the same whether private, state forest, national wildlife refuge, national preserve, or national park…

My recent trip with childhood friends Nic and Cristina really brought Mr Reed’s message home! We must work on saving Florida a piece at a time, a drop of water at a time.  Heads up! Even when the “usual suspects” get you down, get up, brush yourself off, hold your head high and keep walking. Go visit one of these treasured places. May we never, never, never give up!   -Nic Mader, Cristina Maldonado, and JTL – Girls’ Trip 2022 -With the only panther we saw at the Nathaniel Reed Big Cypress Visitors’ Center! “Never give up!” We’ll be back! -Mr Reed’s Forward to EVERGLADES, by Davis and Ogden below-Timeline outside of Nathaniel Reed Big Cypress Visitors’ Center-Mr Reed, Everglades Coalition 2012. Photo JTL 

Old Growth Cypress, Old Friends-Corkscrew Swamp

~Old growth cypress trees, Audubon Corkscrew Swamp SanctuaryLong before our waters were impaired, our state’s most stately trees were cut for timber. But in Collier County a portion of Florida’s original old growth bald cypress forest remains. Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary  boardwalk allows access into this majestic place considered the world’s largest old growth bald cypress forest. Amazing! 

On Saturday, February 26, 2022, two of my “oldest” friends, Nic Mader, and Cristina Maldonado, and I, drove south below Lake Okeechobee and then west. This tour includes other destinations, but for this post, I will focus on Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. The sanctuary includes wet prairie, pond cypress, bald cypress and a sprawling central marsh. These photos are from the bald cypress section. The giants were just growing their fernlike, delicate leaves, some were bare.

As mentioned, Florida’s once glorious forests were raped and pillaged mostly in the years after the Civil War, the 30s, and post World War II. These ancient natural resources built the county at the expense of lost habitat, displaced wildlife, and certainly laid the groundwork for the the degradation of our waters. I can’t image seeing what was done then today!

Collier County Historic Photos

Thankfully, some small portions are remaining. Corkscrew is one of them. Although bald cypress are dated to live 1700 years or older,  the remaining trees in Corkscrew are estimated to be a “mere” 500 to 700 years old! Looking up Nic, Cristina and I almost toppled over, the trees’ branches reaching to Heaven, beautifully decorated by Mother Nature’s ornaments: bromeliads, lichens, mosses, and strangely shaped, draping strangler-figs.

“I feel young here!” noted Cristina. We laughed!

Young or old, unfortunately, the story of this swamp gets even bloodier. The plume trade also existed in this region. Local rookeries, because of the money attached to the trade of ladies hats, led ruthless plume hunters deep into the swamp. Hundreds of thousands of gorgeous wading birds, often with chicks, were slaughtered.  This of course is what brought Audubon to action. Audubon realized that even thought so much was already lost; they must now fight not just to save the birds, but also the birds’ habitat. And thus today, we have Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Ending with more good news, Nic, Cristina and I saw an incredible number of birds in the sanctuary! Great Egrets, Blue Herons, Night Herons, Little Blue Herons, White Herons, Red Tail Hawks, Tri-Colored Herons, Pileated Woodpeckers and even a non-forgettable fast, circle-flying, click-sounding, Kingfisher that flew inches over the alligators!

My favorite part was when Nic said incredulously: “Is this like an old Florida post card or what?” She was spot on. Like an old Florida post card come alive!

#therealFlorida still lives!-Old growth bald cypress tree, Corkscrew-Old friends, JTL, Nic, and Cristina in an old growth forest!-On the boardwalk-Nic found a ghost orchid, though not yet in bloom!

FIU Libraries: logging in region of Big Cypress/Naples

Thank you to my old-friends Cristina and Nic for sharing their photos for this post and for a wonderful trip! Next? Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk and Fakahatchee Strand!

Water in the Street – Building Resiliency

-Riverview Drive,  Sewall’s Point , FL 11-6-21. Since about 2012, the street I live on floods during King Tides. As a peninsular community between the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, many areas of the town are prone to flooding. For instance, when I was a kid, we used to play in waist deep water from Sewall’s Point Road up to Banyan Road during such events as Hurricane David in 1976. Later the town raised North Sewall’s Point Road and the flooding situation improved. However, over the following decades, areas that were “dry” are now often filled with water.

Like the street I live on, fifty years later, Riverview…

On January 20th, 2020, Florida Oceanographic invited John Englander to speak at the the Blake Library in Martin County. In his book High Tide on Main Street, he writes ” Rising sea level will be the single most profound geologic change in recorded human history.”

Whether you believe this or not, Florida believes it. Whether it’s places like Monroe County that has been “underwater” for years, or places like Martin County that are only recently experience King Tide and heavy-rain flooding, RESILIENCY is the name of the game.

Today, I share some links to some of our local and state resiliency programs. If you just pursue them, you will be impressed. Even the Army Corps of Engineers is building resiliency through a program trademarked Engineering With Nature. I think this is the key, incorporating  nature, not just building against it. I think we’ve figured by now, without Nature on our side, we will never win. ~Does your street flood? What do you think about the rising popularity of Resiliency?

Resiliency Programs Martin County/State of Florida

South Florida Water Management District Resiliency Lunch & Learn October 20, 2021

State Legislature and Governor’s Office, State of Florida, 2021

Department of Environmental Protection, State of Florida, 2021

Martin County, Florida 2021

City of Stuart, Florida 2021

Town of Sewall’s Point, Florida 2021

-Sewall’s Point Park 11-7-21

 

 

 

 

 

“When Flows Return to the River of Grass” -Dr Mark Ian Cook

Dr Mark Ian Cook is smiling. And he should be. It is looking like the the birds and wildlife of the Everglades may end up having one of the best years ever! Dr Cook is the Scientific Section Lead of the Systemwide Everglades Group for the South Florida Water Management District. He received his B.S. at Bangor University; his M.S. at the University of Durham; his Ph.D at the University of Glasgow; completed Post Doc work at UC Berkley;  then in 2004 was hired SFWMD Lead Scientist rising to his position today. Cook’s seventeen years of SFWMD scientific photography and publication has required him to take hundreds of helicopter flights throughout the greater Everglades-and literally hundreds of thousands of aerial photographs (data). Dr Cook has seen it all. He was there last year when the rains came early and thousands of wood storks and other wading birds watched their almost fully fledged chicks starve. But this year, this year is different! This year, more chicks may fledge than Mark has ever witnessed…

Before I wrote this post we spoke by phone. “Hello Dr Cook,” I said. “Please call me Mark,” he replied. “We just landed in Homestead to fuel up.” I could hear the helicopter blades swishing.

“How are the birds? Are they still doing well? “ I asked, speaking very loudly.

“They are phenomenal! They are in heaven!” He replied in a wonderful English accent.

“That’s great!” I said.“Tell them hello!” I heard him laughing.

Thank you to the Arts Council of Martin County for featuring Dr Cook’s 2021 Virtual Gallery, “When Flows Return to the River of Grass.” I invite you to partake in this wonderful year for our Everglades wildlife. Take a look at what happens “When Flows Return to the River of Grass.”

(Click on highlighted link above to walk through virtual galley)

Roseate Spoonbills feeding at sunset. Dr Mark Ian Cook.
A Great Egret on its way to build a nest. Photograph Dr Mark Ian Cook

*You can also learn and enjoy from Dr Cook’s work on Facebook.

River Warrior Times 5-16-21

Port Mayaca, Structure S-308 at Lake Okeechobee opens to Canal-44 into St Lucie River. S-308 is open for water supply for agriculture but is not going through S-80 into the St Lucie River/ Indian River Lagoon. Aerial, Ed Lippisch, 5-5-21.

River Warrior Times 5-16-21. This piece is written specially for Lake Okeechobee.

It was my intension to write a summary water piece every two weeks. I last wrote on April 25, 2021.Today, I will try to catch up.

If I had one phrase to describe what has happened since April 25, it would be “high-alert.” Governor DeSantis visited on May 10, giving direction as his executive order 19-12 is the guidepost for the Department of Environmental Protection and the SFWMD.

The blue-green algae bloom at Pahokee Marina, I wrote about last time, was cleaned up through a cooperative of the South Florida Water Management District and the Department of Environmental Protection. This is a first as globs of purple, blue, green, and grey cyanobacteria -blue green algae- sat in marinas and inside canal communities in 2016, and 2018 until they rotted and fell to the bottom. This time, under Governor DeSantis of which DEP and the SFMWD sit organizationally, it was determined (under Section 1 part I of 19-12) to remove the toxic algae via vacuum and chemical treatment, relocating what Palm Beach County could not take safely, far away to District lands away from people and wildlife.

Keith W. Babb, Mayor of Payhokee, attend the May 13 SFWMD Governing Board meeting and was very grateful. You can listen to his comments at 39.00 the beginning of the meeting. Congressman Brian Mast, who led Governor DeSantis’ transition committee, also provided fiery commentary.

Although it is definitely a positive that the toxic algae was removed, we must ask ourselves a question. How are we going to pay for this again, and again, and again? A precedent has been set. Is vacuuming each time sustainable? With Lake Okeechobee in its present condition this is a very relevant question.

As Mark Perry, the Executive Director of Florida Oceanographic has repeatedly stated: “Unless we address the source of the problem in the upper watershed of Lake Okeechobee, we will never reach the 105 metric tons at 40 ppb.” Translated, that means the pollution numbers coming into the lake are high, in some basins over 600 parts per billion phosphorus. You can’t vacuum away as an avalanche of pollution pours in!

The situation is complex. However, the handling of Pahokee Marina is symbolic of a larger problem. I would have liked not only DEP and SFWMD to be in the spotlight at the Pahokee Marina, but also FDASCs the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Why? Because the lake did not get sick overnight, and the history of Lake Okeechobee is an agricultural one. This is reflected in “who” is in charge of water quality.

First, back-pumping fertilized and chemical-leaden water into Lake Okeechobee was common practice and allowed by the by the state. The sugar industry/EAA imparticularly partook of this practice for decades. It almost killed the lake. In the 1970s and 1980s lawsuits forced water that was once back-pumped into Lake Okeechobee to flow south, sparing the lake, but creating a new issue of destroying the Everglades. This in turn spurred other lawsuits so that today Everglades Agriculture Area (EAA) runoff must first be filtered through Storm Water Treatment Areas, south of Lake Okeechobee before it can enter the Everglades Protection Areas or Everglades National Park. Most of this was paid for by taxpayers, just like the clean up at Pahokee Marina.

Lake O, EAA, STAs, and WCAs. (Map SFWMD)

Lake Okeechobee, though in a better position than in 1970 continues to be fed high concentrations of phosphorus and nitrogen mostly from agriculture areas north of Lake Okeechobee. Thus destruction already done from the early years is locked up in sediments,  and the new destruction that continues makes for a hyper-eutropic lake that now blooms every year.

Not a good situation. So how is fixing our waters supposed to work? Who is in charge of water quality?

The Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program (373,4595. Florida Statutes) directs the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the South Florid aWater Management District to work together to reduce pollutants and achieve water quality standards in the the Lake Okeechobee, St Lucie River, and Caloosahatchee River watershed through Basin Management Action Plans and Total Maximum Daily Loads program (403.067. Florida Statutes.)”

No one agency is in charge of water quality. Like it or not, in Florida, three agencies have this responsibility. As Florida Statue requires, we must all work together to turn Florida’s organizational chart from a line into a triangle. Until FDEP, SFWMD & FACS are truly working together, there will not be improvement to Lake Okeechobee’s water quality and Florida’s tax payers will be on the hook.

THE TRIANGLE!

Organizational chart State of Florida. Note the members of The Triangle (circled) responsible of water quality. The Dept. of Ag is a cabinet position. DEP and SFWMD are lower agencies but fall under the top tier, the governor. The governor is doing a great job but he can not do it alone!

Links to timely information:

JAX ACOE keeps S-80 closed, adjust flows to Caloosahatchee

SFWMD operations statement Ops_Position_Statement_May_11_17_2021

EyeonLakeO website Todd Thurlow

DEP algae bloom dashboard 

FOS SLR water quality report

Orca report on dead manatees in the IRL by county

 

 

 

Closest to Home

Sometimes the most beautiful places, are the places closest to home. Savannas Preserve State Park, established in 1978, stretches more than ten miles from Jensen Beach to Ft Pierce containing the “largest, most ecologically intact stretch of freshwater marsh in southeast Florida.”

Ed and I usually visit through the Jensen Beach Boulevard entrance, but recently we entered at Walton Road. The beauty was remarkable!

According to the state’s handout, it was Lt. Benjamin Pierce who first used the term “savannah” to describe a series of ponds and marshes and more that he came upon during the Second Seminole War (1835-1842).

If you live near the Treasure Coast, this 5,400 acres offers a valuable close to home experience. Ed and I were there before sunset and even on a cloudy day the lighting was awe inspiring. A wonderful afternoon! Thank you to those who had the foresight to preserve these lands between the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon.-Ed takes photos of many small and colorful wild flowers and native plants.-Hello armadillo!-My arms are not even the length of a brown pelican’s wing span!-Ed is shorter than a sandhill crane!-Now this is a great classroom!Savannas Preserve State Preserve Park, Florida Parks System.

 

 

Hurricane Shutters Up; I’m Ready…

Over the past weekend, August 1 & 2nd 2020, I looked at my phone for a National Hurricane Center update:

“Tropical Storm Isaias May Become a Hurricane.” 

I sat there dreaming…

“What if it really speeds up?” 

Tropical Storm/Hurricane Isaias: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Isaias

I checked my handy note card: Category 1,  74-95 miles per hour; Category 2, 96-110 miles per hour. I recalled Francis and Jeanne and Wilma.

In spite of the news reports, Isaias did not speed up. The storm didn’t even come ashore. There was no rain. 

Early this morning my husband, Ed, drank his coffee. Our eyes met. “I feel like we wasted the whole weekend,”  he said. 

“Wasted the whole weekend?” I inquired. “What would you prefer? Destruction?” Ed smirked. 

Hurricane Dorian2019: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Dorian

It’s a weird feeling. The feeling that you’re going to get clobbered, preparing, and then it doesn’t happen at all.  I recall Hurricane Dorian, September 1st of last year. I was convinced “this was it” – the end of all things material that I loved. I carried around  a small box of my most dear possessions. Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5, hovered over and dismantled the Bahamas, but never arrived…

When Ed and I first moved into our home in Sewall’s Point, my neighbors told me they put hurricane shutters up on half the house every August. I thought they were being extremists. I rolled my eyes. Now, with so many fits and starts, I’ve begun to do the same. 

Ed wanted to wait until September, but I thought, “you know, Isaias, this is an opportunity. An opportunity to plan, just in case Mother Nature isn’t crying wolf.

So the bedroom is darker, and the living room needs lamps to read. But me? I feel ready. I feel prepared

Atlantic Hurricane Season: https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/climo/

Earth Day Must Mean Change…

Earth Day 2020 will certainly go down in the history books. The worldwide outbreak of Covid-19 gives all of us a new lens to view the world, our fragile blue planet… Certainly everyone sees “change” differently. For those of us along the Treasure Coast, when we think of Earth Day we may think of water. Since 2013, thousands of us have come together amplifying a longstanding fight  for clearer, cleaner water. We started a modern movement that caught traction, and indeed, changed the political landscape and perceptions of Floridians. We are making progress! But big change comes slowly, thus we must do all we can ourselves right now. It must start with “little things,” like with how we think about pollution; how we live; how we use, develop, and protect ours lands; how we manage our pesticide-fertilizer-water-hungry lawns, or get rid of them all-together; how we think about food, transportation, and most important, our expectations of large scale agricultural production. It’s overwhelming really. But it’s a must. Earth Day cannot just be a celebration, a recognition, it has to bring real change, right now.  

NASA 2015 Blue Marble

NASA the blue marble series- our fragile planet from outer space

2013, 2016, 2018 JTL/EL: St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee during multiple toxic algae crises, not long ago, a strong reminder of the need for continued change. We cannot ever again allow such polluted waters upon our Earth. 

Photo: Dr Scott Kuhns, 2018

Photo: Mary Ratabaugh, Central Marine 2018

1909 Drainage Map- Kissimmee and Caloosahatchee Rivers-Lake Okeechobee

Historic 1909 Drainage Map- Kissimmee and Caloosahatchee Rivers, and Lake Okeechobee, Florida. Captain J.R. Slattery, Corps of Engineers U.S. Army.

This post is for the map lover!

Realtor, Stephen Dutcher, shared this 1909 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers War Department Map with my historian mother years ago. To see in all detail click again to enlarge image.

The patient viewer will be amazed at the simple black and white map’s level of detail.

You’ll see the documentation of the upper Kissimmee Chain of Lakes being drained and connected via canals, as was the condition of Lake Okeechobee west to the Caloosahatchee River. However, at this time, looking east, there was no connecting canal from Lake Okeechobee to the St Lucie River!

Reading between the lines, one notes words not of agriculture or development but of Nature: “Pine; marsh; prairie; pine slough; cane slough; cypress; ponds…” many colors, full of birds and wildlife!

~Studying near today’s Stuart, the discerning eye will see that the famous  Allapattah Flats ran from the upper St Johns River basin near Ft. Pierce south many, many miles, all the way to the headwaters of the St Luice River! These clear waters flowed not into the Atlantic Ocean through the St Lucie Inlet as this sandbar was closed, but rather traveled north through St Lucie Sound (today’s Southern Indian River Lagoon) emptying at Ft. Pierce Inlet.

~The haunting names of the lakes reflect Indian wars of the past: Tohopekaligo, Kissimmee, Hicpochee, Hatcheneha,  just to name a few. In neat, handwritten print, a chart at the bottom of the page juxtaposes the levels of the lakes, “Ordinary Low Water” to “Extremely High Water” revealing depths certainly not found today.

~Lake Okeechobee? 20.6 to 24.4 feet!

~And in closure, the eye sweeps south; an open Everglades lies unmapped. A mystery for another day…

So 110 years of “progress” has slipped by, the stately virgin pines have been harvested, the coastlines scraped and modernized, the marshes, lakes, and rivers drained, and the prairies converted to pasture and farmland, but looking at this map, we can dream. We can dream beyond black and white~of what our dear Florida looked like, before she was changed…

 

Click below for full map

1909 Kissimmee Chain of Lakes

Florida, a Lake Filled Sponge!

Major Causes of Pollution: Agriculture and Bio-Solids; Sewage Treatment Plants; Septic Tanks; Urban Suburban Fertilizers; Storm Water

Google Earth image of Florida north of Lake Okeechobee reveals thousands of Lakes, not all visible, 2019

 

From the air, one really notices that Florida is like a lake filled sponge! This past weekend, Ed and I flew to Gainesville in Alachua County, and then to Titusville, in Brevard County. This time, I was looking at lakes more than rivers. From the air, Florida is a patchwork of ponds and lakes reflecting like mirrors in the sun, a strange and beautiful landscape, or shall I say “waterscape?”

During the flight, I started thinking that if water bodies could talk, it would be the lakes that would have the strongest lobby. According to a 2006 article by Sherry Boas of the Sun Sentinel, the state of Florida has over 30,000 lakes! Many like Lake Apopka, in Orange County, historically, were altered because shoreline wetlands supported successful agricultural endeavors, kind of a smaller version of Lake Okeechobee; and again, just like Lake Okeechobee, although a great industry arose, this led to the demise of the lake. But like the Indian River Lagoon, and Caloosahatchee, people rose up to “Save Lake Apopka” and continue to work on this today: Orlando Sentinel Article 2018, shared by Janet Alford: (https://www.clickorlando.com/water/how-lake-apopka-went-from-floridas-most-polluted-lake-to-the-promising)

(https://friendsoflakeapopka.wildapricot.org/timeline)
Yes indeed, Florida appears to float like a sponge in a sea of water. How we could think that our agriculture fertilizers and human sewage issues would not catch up with us on a broader level was naive. Excessive nutrients coming from humans on land are polluting waterbodies throughout the state which in turn also drain to pollute more waterbodies.  Whether it be ponds, lakes, estuaries, or the Everglades, we must wipe up our mess, clean out our sponge!

In 2018, almost pristine, Blue Cypress Lake in Indian River County was compromised ~becoming full of very toxic #cyanobacteria #BlueGreenAlgae due to application of #biosolids (human sludge from sewage treatment plants “treated” and then spread on ground of fertilizer. Biosolid application that has been supported by our state government and the Dept of Agriculture is finally coming to light as a tremendous problem. DR Edie Wider of ORCA has been instrumental in bringing to light this issue: (https://www.teamorca.org) (Orlando Sentinel, Blue Cypress Lake: https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/os-blue-cypress-sewage-pollution-20180405-story.html)

Lake Apopka in Orange & Lake Counties is the poster-child for death and destruction and the beginnings of rebirth #Florida #LoveFloridaLakes Save Lake Apopka!

Beautiful Lake Lochloosa in Alachua County very close to better known Lake Newnan, and Orange Lake. (http://www.jimporter.org/lakes/twinlakes/)

In wet times, Paynes Prairie in Alachua County becomes a lake and can be seen from many miles away ~a totally unique ecosystem, many animals even horses and buffaloes! https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/paynes-prairie-preserve-state-park

 

Approaching Titusville, I saw a phosphate mine and many, many lakes!

The many ponds and wetlands seemed to run into Lake Oclawaha that has a history with the controversial Rodman Reservoir and Cross State Barge Canal (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocklawaha_River)

Lake George in Volusia and Putnam Counties is now the second largest lake in #Florida (Apopka was largest before shoreline used for Ag.) and #brackish ~Explorer, John Bartram gave the lake its name in honor of King George lll in 1765. “Welaka” was previous name from the Timucua Indians (https://myfwc.com/recreation/cooperative/lake-george/)

Historic Photos from Florida Memory:

General Collection Florida Memory, Lake Apopka, ca. 1910

General Collection Florida Memory, Juniper Creek at Lake George, 1888

General Collection Florida Memory, Carraway Fish Camp, Lake Lochloosa ca. 1969

Links:

Department of Environmental Protection, Lakes: https://floridadep.gov/search/site/Lakes

Water Atlas Program for Florida Lakes: http://www.wateratlas.usf.edu/atlasoflakes/florida/

Florida Lake Society: http://flms.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8&Itemid=119

JTL blog “wetlands/ponds:” https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/wetlands/

 

 

A Closer Look at DeSantis’ Executive Order 19-12: “Achieving More Now For Florida’s Environment”

On January 10th, Florida’s Office of the Governor, under very newly elected Ron DeSantis, issued Executive Order 19-12. The title of this order is “Achieving More Now For Florida’s Environment.” It is a remarkable and voluminous piece.

Today, I am going to share it in full as you may have only heard about parts of it in the newspaper.

*For entire Executive Order 19-12 link here; you may wish to print out for your files: https://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/EO-19-12-.pdf

Here we go–

First, note the “Whereases…” giving background and laying foundation for the order.

Whereas, water and natural resources are the foundation of Florida’s communities, economy and way of life; and

Whereas, protection of water resources is one of the most critical issues facing our state and requires immediate action; and

Whereas, recent algae blooms have resulted in an increasing threat to our environment and fragile ecosystems, including our rivers, beaches, and wildlife, as well as causing the issuance of health advisories, closures of recreational areas and economy losses in adjacent communities; and

Whereas, as the Governor of the State of Florida, a primary mission of my tenure is to follow in words of President Theodore Roosevelt by having Florida treat its “natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value”;

Now, Therefore, I Ron DeSantis, as Governor of Florida, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Article IV, Section (1) (a) of the Florida Constitution, and all other applicable laws, do hereby issue the following Executive Order, to take immediate effect:

The order is five pages long, with three sections:

Section 1: Focus on Rapid Improvement of Water Quality, Quality, and Supply (A-O) 15 parts directed to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP); the Department of Health; Visit Florida; and the Department of  Economic  Opportunity.

Section 2: Restructuring, to Focus on Accountability, Transparently, and Science  to Achieve More Now for Florida’s Environment (A-C) 3 parts directed only to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)

Section 3: Ensure Florida’s Valuable and Vulnerable Coastlines and Natural Resources are Protected (A-B) 2 parts, again,  directed only to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)

There are a total of 20 parts to the executive order. Note state’s organizational chart: DEP’s place is as an executive agency under the governor, Executive Branch. Water Management Districts are under the governor but fall in the “local government” section as the Water Management Districts have the power to levy taxes within their districts,  but are appointed by the Governor.

Please peruse entire executive order below. Read at least first line or underlined and know that it is not one, but all of these “declarations within the declaration” that will empower government structure, if steered by true captains, to abate water woes for all Springs, Estuaries, Rivers, Lakes, and the Everglades of Florida. Thank you Governor DeSantis for this map!

Governor’s website: https://www.flgov.com/2019/01/10/icymi-governor-ron-desantis-discusses-major-water-policy-reforms-in-sarasota/

Ron DeSantis: Protecting Florida’s Environment on Day 1

Yesterday, I called in for the final conference call of Governor-elect Ron DeSantis’ Transition Advisory Committee on the Environment,  chaired by our own, Congressman Brian Mast. It was very, very interesting. Highlights of the call were recorded by TC Palm’s Ali Schmitz:

https://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/indian-river-lagoon/politics/2018/12/28/desantis-transition-work-agriculture-limit-pollution/2424629002/

https://desantistransition.com/governor-elect-ron-desantis-announces-transition-advisory-committee-on-the-environment-natural-resources-agriculture/

As a member of the public, I was able to listen-in on the call ~this one focusing on Agriculture, and make my recommendation.

Having served on the Constitution Revision Commission in 2018, I am especially drawn to the importance of government structure. DeSantis’ originally posted environmental policy statement listed Accountability for Water Quality. Right now, many Floridians wonder “who is charge,” who answers for our present lack of water quality? Some even think, understandably so, that it is the Army Corp of Engineers. It is not. Under the law, the state of Florida is responsible for water quality, but with “three cooks in the kitchen,” (DEP, Water Management Districts, and Dept of Agriculture) this is difficult. So with my time on the call, I asked for centralization of enforcement of water quality standards and a strong Lead Agency:

CENTRALIZE THE ENFORCEMENT OF WATER QUALITY STANDARDS. A Majority of water quality regulation is currently housed at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). However, certain water quality standards and monitoring reside within the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) which is overseen by the Commission of Agriculture. DeSantis will work with the Florida legislature to move all components of water quality regulation within the Executive Branch to DEP. This will increase uniformity and ensure that the Secretary of DEP, who is accountable to the Governor, has the tools necessary to meet the water quality standards that Floridians deserve. ~DeSantis for Governor website Sept. 2018.

As we all know, the inauguration is January 8th, 2019. Very exciting! Congratulations Governor DeSantis! And awesome that Congressman Mast is by your side!!

Before we get too excited, let’s not forget…

Today, I will post the website of Governor-Elect Ron DeSantis on the environment so we can remember what was promised and hold the governor and all members of the Transition Advisory Committee on the Environment accountable for next four years. Looking forward to a governor who will protect the environment on day one!

Website links:

GOVERNOR-ELECT RON DESANTIS

https://rondesantis.com/issues/

https://rondesantis.com/environment/